Colorful illustrations and personable writing are just a few of the bonuses Power Spending: Getting More for Less offers to readers. Beneath the fun, outer core of this book are important lessons in budgeting, saving and improving your relationship with money in general.
Co-written by Carolyn Johnston, Eric Poulin and Robin Poulin, Power Spending is an engaging book that adds a flare to the world of finance. To learn more or purchase this book visit their website: www.powerspendingbook.com.
1. In a few sentences can you define Power Spending?
Putting POWER into your SPENDING means making the most of every dollar-first, by keeping more dollars in your own pocket and then, by getting more for the dollars you do spend. We believe (as we’ve illustrated on our book cover) that everyday people can be turned into financial super heroes by learning the principles and applying the techniques outlined in the book. “Power Spending” means becoming financially empowered, so that you control your money, not the other way around.
2. Your book takes a reader from surviving to power spending, can you explain this the meaning of this transition?
In Power Spending, we take people from “basic economic survival” to “advanced power spending”. It’s important to first understand some financial basics: money psychology, budgeting, emergency planning, saving, investing, credit and debt. Once readers have a good foundation that they can build on, we teach some advanced techniques to show them how to make dollars streeeeeetch when spending on food, entertainment, celebrations, travel, etc. There’s even a chapter about opportunities for charitable giving that won’t break the bank.
3. You always hear horror stories about people and families getting $20,000 – $50,000 in debt. How big a role do you think the lack of education has on why people end up in debt?
Education is, and always has been, the key to making lasting change. Lack of financial education is a huge factor in the personal debt crisis many families are experiencing today. Combine that with a desire to keep up with the Joneses’ and a sense of entitlement and we have a recipe for financial disaster. We hope that by making Power Spending a fun and easy-to-understand read it will encourage people to learn the basics and make better financial choices so that there will be less families dealing with the burden of debt.
4. In one chapter, you speak about ‘Getting a Deal’. With flash sale sites like Groupon and other discounts options existing online, it is apparent that more and more consumers have the option to rely on online tools to find deals. What would you recommend consumers keep top-of-mind as they search for deals? When does deal shopping become harmful to ones finances? Can it?
Shopping for deals is a great practice when you are looking to reduce spending on something you are already planning to buy. However, browsing for coupons and subscribing to coupon sites such as Groupon and similar services – while they can save you money – more often than not will cause you to spend money which you normally wouldn’t have. This mentality comes into play: “Wow, that’s such a great deal…I’d be a fool to pass it by,” when you’d normally never have purchased/used that product or service in the first place.
Advertisers know that getting their products in front of people, especially at very reduced prices and with a time limited offer, will cause this line of thinking. It’s a (mini) form of high pressured sales. Now, considering that you may be able to try some products and services that you wouldn’t normally try (which can be good to grow and experience new things) and you occasionally will get a good deal on things you normally purchase, in the end, you need to exercise caution. Ask yourself these questions: Is this a need or a want? Will I use it? Is it good quality? Is it really a deal? Is this a 9 or 10 on my need-to-have list?
5. One topic that MyBankTracker.com speaks about is raising a financially savvy child. A question that always comes up is, ‘At what age should you introduce money to your child?’ and ‘Are prepaid cards a good approach to teaching money management?’ — what do you think?
We think it’s so important to teach your children about money that we devoted an entire chapter to it in our book! We believe that introducing a child to money is best done at an early age. After all, if we help our kids learn to be financially savvy while they are growing up, they won’t be coming back to us for financial help when they are adults.
We start our own children with an internal family currency – Poulin Points, which they earn for behaviors and can then exchange for treats or activities. As they develop, we introduce an allowance and review with them how it works. We show them how purchasing a brand name item from a catalog yields 1 item or that they can purchase the same item at another store and still get another 4-5 items for the same money. They have a great handle on the value of money.
We encourage the use of prepaid cards for teenagers as opposed to cash. Purchases can be tracked on an online statement, which can be reviewed both for teaching/learning opportunities and for parental overview of appropriate spending. Kids should be on a budget too and responsible for some of their own expenses. We like the fact that there is a spending limit built into a prepaid card. When the limit is reached there is no more spending. As a parent you also control when the card is “recharged”. Teenagers get the experience of using credit but in a very controlled way. If they spend all their money before they make all the purchases they need then that’s just too bad. It’s a hard lesson but better learned while they are young and their parents are around to guide them.
6. In writing this book, whose spending and buying habits did you consider? Did you come across any banking habits that you were not aware of before writing the book?
We surveyed individuals and families across a fairly wide spectrum of socio-economic demographics and asked them how they use their money. We didn’t specifically ask about banking habits, but one thing we have noticed is that many people are using personal finance services that automatically download their bank statement, categorize their transactions and show them what has happened with their money. We think these services are a great starting point, but it appears that people believe that since they are using services like this that they are budgeting properly and in control of their money. The problem is that there is no change in behavior. These services, for the most part, don’t help people plan their money – they only show them what has happened.
Real personal financal management is in the planning of your spending, not simply looking back at what happened last month. As people begin to look forward with their finances and understand and plan for their expenses, pay off debt and save for future needs, only then will they truly be in control.
7. Power Spending is great in the sense that you can pick it up and start at any chapter while still learning something. For those who do not read it from cover to cover, what message do you want them to walk away with?
We really want to make learning and practicing good personal finance simple and FUN! We’ve designed the book to be an easy read, with tons of resources, interesting factoids, and ideas from everyday people. The reader can let our cartoon characters, Bill and Penny Munney, ask the questions they are too embarrassed to ask.
At the end of the day this is what we want everyone to understand: You don’t need to be a financial guru to be a power spender. The simple principles and techniques found in each chapter will help you make the most of every dollar you spend. Give it a try. It’s easier than you think!